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Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

General Transport Discussion not specific to one state

Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Sun Sep 02, 2018 10:17 pm

There are over 5,500 buses in Singapore on contracted route services, all are air conditioned and a high proportion are full low floor. I have been quite a skeptic of the need for full low floor buses, but our discussions on this forum, particularly my discussions with tonyp have made me look at this full low floor layout without any preconceived ideas or established bias and I do have to thank him for opening my mind to this.

I have started a separate topic for this, as I cannot argue the pros and cons of high capacity, multi door loading buses (verses say d/decks), because in Singapore, where I have just visited once more, their multi door artics allow loading only through the front door, with though an efficient 2 stream, 2 card reader system and artics really are on the way out in that country.

Similarly, it is difficult to argue the dwell time comparison of artics vs. d/deckers due to the front door only loading of artics (as mentioned above) and the efficiency of their smart card ticket system combined with the obvious familiarity and competency of the locals using the system. Singapore retains distance related fares so there are 2 readers at every door and passengers are required to tap on and tap off for each ride and they do it quickly.

Both artics and d/decks run long trunk routes as well as shorter suburb circular routes - naturally artics must unload quicker than d/decks with their 3 doors + 1 floor only, but overall d/decks did not seem to spend excessive time at stops compared to other buses and some of this is due to some passengers moving from their seats and down stairs and tapping off, prior to their stop. But the local LTA does recognise the bottom of the stairs congestion by tendering for 100, 3 door twin staircase d/decks – it will be interesting to see what evolves.

What I can do is to review some of their major all low floor types + their low entrance Scanias and comment briefly on my thoughts of their interior layouts. There will follow photos of the exterior and interior of the buses shown below and a comment on each type.

1 Alexander Dennis Enviro 500 D/Deck H55/28DW +51s =134
2 MAN A95 / Gemilang D/Deck H57/28DW +50s =135
3 Volvo B9TL / Wright D/Deck H55/27DW +51s =133
4 MAN A24 / Gemilang (Artic) Artic AB51TW +80s =131
5 MAN A22 / Gemilang S/Deck B35DW +56s =91
6 MAN A22 Euro 6 /Gemilang SD's S/Deck B33DW +56s =86
7 Mercedes Benz Citaro S/Deck B37DW +51s =88
8 Scania K230B / Gemilang S/Deck B34DW +53s =87

1. Full low floor, the in line vertical rear engine provides a good layout at the rear on the lower deck.
2. Full low floor, horizonal in line engine on the LH side provides a remarkable layout in the circumstances and the uncluttered floor would be superior to a lot of single deck buses.
3. Full low floor for about ¾ of the 1,440 buses and there is no doubt that a rear vertical transverse engine provides the best floor layout, but this transverse layout is basically finished – great shame.
4. Full low floor artic and a great layout it is – no step right up to the last row.
5. Full low floor s/deck, a good layout but the number of seats are not high for a 12m bus.
6. Same comment as above.
7. A very professional full low floor bus, difficult to dislike, but the seated capacity is again poor.
8. Low entrance bus (same as in Australia) – again very low seating capacity for a 12m bus and high steps up to the back, which are a bit cumbersome.

The bus capacities for the 3 main types are interesting and this is what has lead the LTA in Singapore to go for D/decks over artics, when the former is only 12m in length vs, the latter’s 18m length, with it’s low seating capacity. Looking at both types 50 standees in a D/deck and 80 standees in an artic both seem impossible.


Full low floor buses (generally) provide a totally flat floor from the front entrance right up to the front of the last row of seats, this gives the passengers, particularly the elderly and in-firmed, a safe step free environment for the whole bus. It also helps to distribute standing passengers more evenly over the whole length of the bus.

The disadvantages of full low floor are that initial cost and maintenance are higher than just low entrance buses and full low floor does require a sunken gangway and sometimes additional plinths around the rear - both are potential sources of trips and falls.

However, on balance, I have to say that a normal (Australian) low entrance, high rear end bus with it's number of of rear steps is probably worse than all the “bits and pieces: of the full low floor – in Australia the older and infirmed tend to restrict themselves to the front low floor section, whereas in Singapore that group tackle all areas of the bus and they seem to handle the single step up from the sunken gangway very well – much to my surprise, I didn’t see anyone trip up (or down) around that rear area.

So I would have to say that Australia needs to bring on full low floor buses, as they do work well. I think all our so called low floor buses in Adelaide are just low entrance buses, I am not sure what it is like, for the rest of the country.

I will later post some exterior/interior photos the Singapore examples a little later – may be tonight, may be not!!
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby TA3001 » Sun Sep 02, 2018 11:15 pm

Tim Williams wrote:
So I would have to say that Australia needs to bring on full low floor buses, as they do work well. I think all our so called low floor buses in Adelaide are just low entrance buses, I am not sure what it is like, for the rest of the country.


Scania N280UB 1801 is level all the way to the back. I think it was modified, as there is a description of it when it was new from long ago back in 2012 in the Adelaide section. Also, the ABM bodied MAN NL232s do not have any form of step until you get past the last few seats.

So there are a small number of exceptions within this category.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby tonyp » Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:53 am

I look forward to your photos Tim. I'm embarrassed to think that I might have pursuaded you on a matter, considering your vast experience in the industry and I humbly thank you for your acknowledgement. I started off working in the automotive industry, my father was a bus and automotive engineer and I also spent a time working in the disability sector. All these things have combined to at least give me some empathy with the ergonomic and functional issues of passenger transport, yet still with an understanding of the problems that engineers face in reaching compromises that deal with all the various competing issues.

With the PTV now publicly identifying the functional benefit of full low floor and the first large orders of such buses in Victoria, on a Volvo chassis which is the Australian industry's most preferred brand, the floodgates to full low-floor have now finally opened in Australia and we'll see the numbers grow in years to come. As it becomes established, the costs will also fall and it will no doubt eventually replace the low-entry chassis as the standard type.

It's also not just an issue of elderly or mobility-impaired passengers. In terms of the whole passenger/loading picture, low floor (meaning stepless gangway) also encourages a more even distribution and better loading of standees who, in the low-entry buses, tend to congregate down the front of the bus, with the aisle stairs acting as a barrier - psychological as much as physical. So the bus doesn't fill properly and in that part of the bus where it is full, it's over-full and becomes dysfunctional when it's time to exchange passengers at stops. Of course, all-door loading also plays a part in solving this, as it gives boarders more immediate access to the back of the bus and therefore more likelihood to fill the bus properly up to the back. Watch how well a Perth CAT bus loads compared with your typical commuter bus elsewhere in Australia. If they could order future CATs on low-floor chassis they would have a local standard-setter.

I'm pleased to see that Singapore has joined the low-floor trend and it must be the first jurisdiction outside Europe to embrace this in a major way - no doubt encouraged by the fact that modern double-deck design has adopted the low-floor lower deck as a means of reducing the height of the bus and therefore lower the centre of gravity. Incidentally, I forgot to mention that the trolleybuses used on the Rockdale line in Sydney, like those Singapore ones, also had two staircases serving two doors. I wonder was this the case on the similar Adelaide trolleybuses?

To TA3001, the N series is Scania's low-floor chassis. The K series is their low-entry chassis. Easier to identify than some other bus manufacturers' model codes! In Europe the model code for a low-entry chassis often has the suffix LE, as it is a variant on the more common low-floor. In Australia it's the other way around.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby TA3001 » Mon Sep 03, 2018 3:09 pm

tonyp wrote:
To TA3001, the N series is Scania's low-floor chassis. The K series is their low-entry chassis. Easier to identify than some other bus manufacturers' model codes! In Europe the model code for a low-entry chassis often has the suffix LE, as it is a variant on the more common low-floor. In Australia it's the other way around.


I was just confirming that Adelaide is not completely devoid of actual low floor buses, contrary to the statement made in the first post.

What does the K stand for with modern Scania buses?
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby tonyp » Mon Sep 03, 2018 4:06 pm

TA3001 wrote:I was just confirming that Adelaide is not completely devoid of actual low floor buses, contrary to the statement made in the first post.

What does the K stand for with modern Scania buses?

I don't know what the Scania model IDs stand for sorry. And yes I understand about the Adelaide low-floors. There is a scattering of low-floors in small numbers in fleets in most states and territories, dating back over a few years. Before the present orders in Victoria, I think the largest number purchased would have been the 20 Irisbus Agoralines in ACT from 2004.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Fleet Lists » Mon Sep 03, 2018 5:05 pm

Living in the Shire.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby busrider » Mon Sep 03, 2018 5:10 pm

There's a whole thread dedicated to bus model numbers here: viewtopic.php?p=2834#p2834
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:06 pm

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Alexander Dennis Enviro 500's number just 216 in Singapore, they look good, their interior layout, which is full low floor is well thought out, but the bodies are assembled in China and they creak and rattle and are not popular!
Whereas Volvo B9TL/Wrights total 1,440, most are full low floor but my interior photos are from the earliest batch which does have a small step up to the rear section. It is a gentle step and seems not to discourage standees in that section. The full low floor ones have back to back transverse seating over both rear axles. The front layout, including the staircase is very user friendly and passengers move about these popular buses in a quick and efficient manner.

Just confirming that the interior shots are of the Volvo, not the AD Enviro 500.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:35 pm

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This photos show the interior of their MAN A95/Gemilangs - the interior is well designed with a spacious entry area, again a good staircase and a full low floor right to the back row of seats and the floor is remarkably uncluttered and a good for passenger flow. What is also remarkable about this bus is that a large horizontal in line engine is on the LHS at the rear and does not seem to take up unreasonable space in the passenger area.

My photos are mainly of the Euro 5 bus, but the single Euro 6 photo is of the exterior of the bus without spotlights.

I do believe that this MAN/Gemilang product is excellent and must be providing some concern to AD and Wright!.

Thew Singapore and Hong Kong MAN/Gemilangs are taller than the Sydney batch.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Mon Sep 03, 2018 6:58 pm

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SMRT placed an order for 40 full low floor artics as a start, to replace their older high floor artics, since then d/decks have completely taken over the high capacity bus role in Singapore (directive of the LTA) and the 40 will remain as orphans in the Singapore fleets, which is a pity as they are excellent buses, great interior layout, powerful and they ride surprisingly well. I rode on one from Changi Airport to Woodlands - that is from the east to the north of the island. It is a long route with lots of loadings and unloadings en route, plus some fast running on expressways. The bus performed very well and it's duties cannot be taken over by d/deckers (at present) as the underground airport bus terminals at Changi have insufficient headroom for d/deckers, which is amazing, when 40% of buses there are d/deckers.

There are still quite a number of high floor artics in service, but their days are numbered - they have some very stylish European bodies + some competent Volgren ones.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:25 pm

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This is one of over 700 buses ordered by SMRT, now in service with all contracted operators - it is an MAN A22/Gemilang, the body style is built under licence to MAN. I believe the front rook fairing is used in Germany to electrical (or gas??) gear. In SG it is a simple decoration to hide the air con unit.

Again the buses are full low floor and well designed, but door have low seating capacities.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:28 pm

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The Euro 6 MAN A22/Gemilang dispenses with the front roof fitting and I believe looks all the better for it. The interior layout is similar/same as the Euro 5 buses, shown previously.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:39 pm

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My favourite s/decker, Mercedes Benz Citaro, same low number of seats (more or less) as the MAN A22 and it has some component under one of the seats that requires a clumsy housing, but overall a brilliant design both inside and out. Despite its relatively small 7.7lt engine, it performs well, rides well and the interior layout is very good. Singapore I think have over 1,100 of these and have stuck with the older model either for fleet consistency and/or cost. A great bus, love to see them in numbers here.

Please excuse the dirty handkerchief in the photo!!!
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Mon Sep 03, 2018 8:48 pm

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Scania K230UB/Gemilang - there are 1,100 of these that were ordered by SBS Transit and entered service between 2007 and 2010. In my humble opinion, they are a shocker, low seating capacity (34) and steps up to a very high rear section due to the layout of Scania's almost vertical rear engine - in fact they are very much the same layout as the majority of our local buses!!!
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Mon Sep 03, 2018 9:02 pm

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With some effort I was able to find and ride in the demo Volvo B8TL/Wright bus. It is a real break in tradition for Volvo, as the engine and transmission layout is not transverse, a layout that originated with the Atlantean. The body style is Wright's Streetdeck and I do have my reservations about it, but in Singapore's Lush Green livery and with the top deck front side panels glazed it looks OK. I thought there might be interest in the information panel displayed within the bus. What does interest me are the ceiling heights of 2,015mm for most of the lower deck and 1,800mm for the upper deck all within an overall height of 4,385mm. As a comparison the old Routemaster had an overall height of 4,381mm, with the lower deck being 1,820mm and the upper being only 1,743mm - that just shows how things have improved with low floor chassis!!
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Mon Sep 03, 2018 11:38 pm

My apologies that I have doubled up some of the photos during loading process and I notice there are a couple of spelling and grammar problems that were not corrected - I was in a rush tonight, with other things that had to be done!
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby tonyp » Tue Sep 04, 2018 7:45 am

Thanks for these Tim. It's great to see photos of buses that show how they actually function rather than the typical "glamour" offside exterior shot where you can't get any idea about the doors and interior!

There are some good examples there, but I find the Citaro's and some others' rear aisle a little too trench-like. It should be possible width-wise to have a standing passenger plus room for somebody to pass along the aisle beside them without too much standing on toes, that is, at least 1.5 person width. It looks like some trench floors would struggle with this.

Here is a view towards the rear of a SOR NB18 artic where they've managed to preserve a consistent aisle-width right through to the rear:

Image

Here is a Solaris Urbino interior:

Image

Here is the rear interior (looking from the back forwards) of Latrobe Valley Bus Line's first low floor Volvo by Volgren, although in this case the low floor ends about another seat row short of the back row (that is two rows at the back accessed from a high section of aisle):

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A Transperth Iveco Citelis artic by Custom:

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A Scania N series artic of a type delivered by Volgren in Sydney and Melbourne in 2009:

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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby tonyp » Tue Sep 04, 2018 11:13 am

Just to clarify a bit of terminology, I think I've tracked down the source of this "ultra low floor" term that floats around in Australian bus circles and is at odds with international standard terminology which is "low-entry" for buses that only have low (stepless) floor encompassing the entry areas, with the rest being high-floor and "low-floor" which is a stepless gangway throughout the bus. "Ultra low floor" refers exculsively to the tram model developed in Vienna which has a completely low floor at kerb height - about 150 mm compared with the ca 300 mm of a typical low-floor.

In Australia, "ultra low floor" is a term that has been defined in the national and state heavy vehicle regulations and is somewhat bizarre:

"ultra-low floor bus" means a bus that--
(a) has stairless entry; and
(b) is accessible to wheelchairs; and
(c) is authorised to carry standing passengers.


(e.g. http://classic.austlii.edu.au/au/legis/ ... _floor_bus )

This very unsophisticated definition can be read to encompass both low-entry and low-floor buses without distinction, but would exclude fpr example the standard single deck Bustech models that have steps at one door. It's surprising that such a fumbling and imprecise legal definition, that pays no regard to international practice or even common sense, would find its way into such detailed technical regulations. In addition, the term "ultra" imples that there's an ordinary or standard "low floor" defined somewhere, which there isn't in this area of regulation - so why say "ultra"? :?
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby PoweredByCNG » Tue Sep 04, 2018 12:10 pm

Tim Williams wrote:Despite its relatively small 7.7lt engine, it performs well...


They actually have 6.4-litre, 286hp engines. This performance is adequate, but not the most inspiring. The MANs with their 10.5-litre, 320hp engine are far more suitable.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Tim Williams » Tue Sep 04, 2018 8:47 pm

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My apologies for wrongly quoting the engine size for Citaros, I don't know where I got that number from!

The points about the "trenches" in the Citaro and to a lesser extent the MAN A22/Gemilang are correct and they really do demonstrate a couple of problems I do have with full low floor buses, the excessively sunken rear gangway and its potential for triping up and the lack of width (as mentioned by tonyp) which discourages standing and maneuvering in that area.

THe photos kindly supplied by tonyp do clearly show a full low floor bus can remain uncluttered, all the way to the back of the bus. Solaris, shown in the photos, is an interesting company, it started as Neoplan Polska in the mid 1990's and that is a great background as Neoplan were pioneers of the innovative and low floor bus. Somewhere along the Neoplan Polska became Solaris, a company that produces about 1,500 (?) buses per year - not small and their buses are impressive and well designed, obviously their Neoplan heritage would have played a part in this! Now the company apparently is in the mid of a takeover by the large Spanish CAF Group, who are more known for railway production - for example both New York and Hong Kong run their electric trains.

So, back to the low floor bus discussion - in my humble opinion there are three ways to build a full low floor bus:
1. Do the same as Mercedes with their Citaro and try and fit every mechanical thing below the floor, which seems to result in high step ups from a narrow sunken gangway + the need to raise the floor further in one, maybe more, other places.
2. Have a compartment at the rear, that perhaps resembles a toilet compartment and house all the necessary parts in there.
3. Have a layout the same as Leyland Atlantean/Volvo D9TL - transverse vertical engine directly coupled to the gearbox, with an angle drive to the rear axle. In the end, this was a very reliable and practical layout that has been applied to single deckers as well as DD's. Whilst it means a lot of components can be contained in this engine area, leaving the floor area free, there is an on going cost of operation penalty, due to the angle drive layout. The French company Heuliez Bus made 12metre 3 door units with this layout and they are great buses, good layout etc. Photos of the these Heuliez I took in Nice in 2014 are with this posting.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby tonyp » Wed Sep 05, 2018 7:35 am

I don't know that those German bus aisles are so much excessively sunken as lacking width. Without being able to put a ruler across things, the aisle in the Solaris, SOR, Iveco, Scania and Volvo buses looks like at least the minimum desirable 550+ mm. It's also possible to ramp aisles upwards (taking account of the proximity of doors) to reduce the vertical height to the seat plinth. It's still much easier for a mobility-restricted person to get into a higher seat by first sitting on it sideways then lifting their legs to swing around into the seat than to climb steps in an aisle while standing, not to mention reduction of tripping hazard as a result of eliminating aisle steps. It would be interesting to get measurements on aisle widths and step tread/riser heights in these various bus models, as such information is rare to obtain in manufacturers' published information.

Heuliez is a division of Iveco (clearly visible as the Citelis platform that is obvious in those photos) and was involved in the development of the first extensively successful low floor citybus that started as the Renault Agora in the mid 1990s and evolved through several name permutations as Irisbus and finally Iveco (with the citybus now called Urbanway instead of Citelis). The large bus manufacturer Karosa in Czech Republic was also taken over by Iveco and has produced large numbers of these models. SOR I believe, similar to the Solaris story, started with ex Karosa/Iveco people who were not satisfied with the way things had evolved with the company and started their own, taking with them an exceptional set of skills in designing and producing low-floor buses. They've made a dent particularly in Iveco's market in Central and Eastern Europe, though not as big as Solaris. Like Solaris they are also big on producing electric/trolley buses, particularly with Skoda equipment.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby PoweredByCNG » Wed Sep 05, 2018 1:47 pm

Tim Williams wrote:
P1050956A_edited-1.jpg
P1050895.jpg
My apologies for wrongly quoting the engine size for Citaros, I don't know where I got that number from!


The Euro VI mode of the Citaro received a major overhaul including a completely new range of engines. The 6.4-litre and 6.9-litre engines (OM 906- and OM 926-series) was replaced by the 7.7-litre OM 936-series. In fact, the lower ratings of the 12-litre OM 457-series (299hp/354hp variants) were also partially or entirely replaced by the OM 936-series (depending on application).
Proud owner of ex-Transperth 1042, ex-Transperth 1114 and ex-STA Adelaide 1549.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby TA3001 » Thu Sep 06, 2018 2:11 pm

Speaking of bus optimisation, is there really a need to have a fully audible next stop tone in a bus? I did almost cause armageddon once when I mentioned Southlink bus 2402 in which the tone is almost deafening.

I'm not sure if Volgren still have that quiet ding sound when the button is pressed, but I know Bustech includes the 'next stop requested' when the button's pressed, and Custom ones now has that horrible unpleasantly loud jackpot tone which follows the simple beep. The beep is the only sound audible in the ex Sydney Iveco CB80s though.

Some of the jackpot CB80s have a quieter tone, but there are a few in which is excessively loud. I have unintentionally been on about 90% of the 38 examples in service in Adelaide.

I find the simple ding in the Volgrens to be the least disturbing. Even the tone on a few of the older CC/ABM/PMC bodied buses can be excessively loud at times, but these are few and far between compared to V2 CB80s which is 1 in 2.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby Merc1107 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 12:39 pm

TA3001 wrote:Speaking of bus optimisation, is there really a need to have a fully audible next stop tone in a bus?
I think the better question is, "What was wrong with a bell?"

The loud buzzers on the latest Volgrens in Perth can be exceptionally loud. If you don't anticipate it as a driver, it can catch you off guard and surprise you.
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Re: Full Low Floor Buses and Singapore

Postby TA3001 » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:25 pm

Honestly, what was wrong with the Volgren CR228L body? In my opinion, buses don't need an extreme overload of noise insulation that makes them sound like water flowing. What exactly has caused the rapid downfall with many modern (and mainly suburban) bus body designs in Australia?
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